The Insider Take On Porn And Condoms

LA officials are trying a new tactic to try to enforce condom use on porn sets: Linking it to film permits. Meanwhile, an industry-run clinic, AIM, that's a common target of the city has recently re-opened as a for-profit entity under the authority of the state. We asked two people in the industry — Stoya, a performer at Digital Playground, and Steve Orenstein, CEO of condom-only Wicked, for their thoughts.

A brief recap, if you haven't been paying attention: The debate heated up when Derrick Burts, a performer who worked in both gay and straight porn, tested HIV positive; the circumstances around his infection and treatment are disputed. Generally, the norm in heterosexual porn is no condoms, universal testing in a database that was kept by industry-run AIM; in gay porn, condoms and no testing. Los Angeles County health officials have argued that existing workplace safety regulations requiring "barrier protection" apply to the adult industry, but that it's impossible to enforce with the resources they have.

Steve Orenstein, CEO, Wicked

Wicked made a stand with about a other dozen other adult companies 12 years ago after an HIV scare to go condoms only. At this point, we are the only adult company still maintaining that policy. (Wicked shoots mostly couples and female-focused scripted features but we also produce all-sex/gonzo & vignette features to appeal to our wide spectrum fan base. We just started a new line also a romance line called Wicked Passions, which has an even more soft, erotic and sensual feel for couples looking for adult product that creates the perfect romantic mood.)

That being said, condoms are only part of the issue. The CalOSHA standards board voted to convene an advisory committee to consider regulations specific to adult productions. Currently, the adult industry is held to the same exposure control regulations as medical clinics, including goggles and rubber gloves. But Wicked Pictures, as I'm sure does the industry as a whole, supports working with CalOSHA to create adult industry appropriate regulations.

Condoms are definitely visible in our films and we don't hide, nor do we shoot different angles to disguise the fact that we use condoms when we shoot. A lot of performers respect and are supportive about the fact that we do require condoms and prefer/request to work with us because we do make condoms mandatory for our shoots. Yes, a lot of people in the industry feel that condoms drive away consumers but we haven't noticed a problem because of our condom policy. In fact, we have a lot of fans who are from different demographics-single males, females and couples who all tell us all the time that they love and respect the fact that we DO use condoms in our productions.

Stoya, contract performer, Digital Playground

For my first two years in the industry (approximately 50 scenes) I was perfectly fine accepting tests for HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea from performers that had been taken in the past thirty days or less, which is the industry standard, and not using condoms for scenes. We used AIM (Adult Industry Medical) for testing, and I do use condoms in my personal life. (I've had sex with quite a few people in my personal life and have had to do a little bit of cajoling with three or maybe four men to get them to use protection. I have a few male friends who say they are actually uncomfortable with the lack of condoms in porn, they say the risk distracts them from how hot the scene might be.

Two summers ago a performer in the industry tested positive for HIV, and now I require that a test be taken as close to two days before I work with someone as possible. I test as close to the scene as possible as well. Sometimes it isn't exactly two days because of travel, the production schedule, and the fact that AIM has been kind of shut down for a few months, but we do our best to minimize the risk as much as possible.

As far as me using a condom on set, I haven't done so yet. I do anal scenes occasionally and both the latex and polyurethane condoms irritate my rectum and make anal sex unpleasant, so I wouldn't ever want to use a condom for those scenes, unless someone comes up with something that doesn't irritate.

I think that if CalOsha is really interested in the health and safety of adult performers, they need to seriously look at safer sex practices and what is practical for the adult industry. I really do believe that the industry's response to a requirement of condoms, dental dams, ejaculation occurring nowhere near mucus membranes, etc could be to move production to other states or countries, which could both disrupt our standard self-imposed testing requirements and have some negative effects on California's economy. Also, I would be very concerned about the possibility of producers switching from testing to condom use, meaning forgoing the tests, since condoms do occasionally fail.

Last month during the Adult Entertainment Expo, Digital Playground got all of their contract performers together in one of the owners' suites and explained their self-imposed plans to decrease risk, including testing for more sexually transmittable diseases than just the main three and offering their performers vaccines for Hepatitis if we don't have a current one. I was really impressed with their initiative, and think that adding Hep vaccines and regular testing for things like Syphilis to our safety procedures is more
effective than attempting to make us use dental dams.

Also, at the end of the day we are taking a risk. Ideally, we are all well educated about the risk we are taking and are all doing our best to minimize the risk as much as possible, but there is some risk, however minimal, involved in any job.

Condom Rule Sought for Sex-Film Sets [NYT]
Related: Stoya Vs. The Female Condom [Tumblr]
Stoya Vs. The Cooties [Tumblr]

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